Baroda drops Irfan, appoints Hooda as skipper

BCA secretary Snehal Parikh says the India-discard can make a comeback and there is no writing him off, but at present, they are looking at youngsters to lead the way.

Irfan Pathan struck a gritty 80 in the opening game for Baroda against Madhya Pradesh in Indore.   -  V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

These are certainly not good times for Pathan brothers. As Baroda takes on Tripura in its next Ranji Trophy encounter, the side has axed Irfan Pathan, while his elder brother Yusuf has pulled out due to typhoid.

Before the season started, Irfan was appointed the captain of the side. But midway into the tournament, things seems to have gone wrong. Sportstar reliably understands that the Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) was not too happy with Irfan's leadership in the tournament, though BCA secretary Snehal Parikh says it is a call of the selectors. "The selectors have taken this decision. They have done what they felt was right," Parikh said.

Irfan Pathan: 'I would've loved to have more opportunities'

Baroda, which also got new coach Atul Bedade this season, has been reeling at the bottom of the table with just one point from two games in Group C.

Not just Irfan, another experienced player, Pinal Shah, has also been given the axe.

Youngster Deepak Hooda has been named captain for the game against Tripura.

Parikh, however, calls it a one-match trial. "We have not done well in the first two home games, so the selectors wanted to try out youngsters against a relatively easy opponent. If it clicks, we will continue with this line up," Parikh said, indicating that the doors remain shut for Irfan for the moment.

The cricketing circles, however, raised eyebrows. In the opening game, Irfan struck a gritty 80, adding 188 runs with Yusuf. Even Irfan is surprised with the decision. He indicated that his form was not the main issue. "Fitness is not an issue as well. I am performing decently, and to my strength. There is no disciplinary issue either. Then what is the reason behind the ouster?" Irfan questioned.

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The Team India discard is not willing to give up. He wants to work harder. “That's all I can do. I have seen many ups and downs in my career, so these things no longer affect me,” he said.

Parikh, in reply, stated: "Till the time he is not retiring, he can always make a comeback. There's no writing him off. But at the moment, we are looking at younger options."

Chairman of selectors Leslie Fernandes, however, remained unavailable to comment on the issue.